excerpt from Thich Nhat Hanh’s No Death, No fear (pdf file)
“… Sometimes people ask you: ‘When is your birthday?’ But you might ask yourself a more interesting question: “Before that day which is called my birthday, where was I?’
“Ask a cloud: ‘What is your date of birth? Before you were born, where were you?’
“If you ask the cloud, ‘How old are you? Can you give me your date of birth?’ you can listen deeply and you may hear a reply. You can imagine the cloud being born. Before being born it was the water on the ocean’s surface. Or it was in the river and then it became vapor. It was also the sun be- cause the sun makes the vapor. The wind is there too, helping the water to become a cloud. The cloud does not come from nothing; there has been only a change in form. It is not a birth of something out of nothing.
“Sooner or later the cloud will change into rain or snow or ice. If you look deeply into the rain, you can see the cloud. The cloud is not lost; it is transformed into rain, and the rain is transformed into grass and the grass into cows and then to milk and then into the ice cream you eat. Today if you eat an ice cream, give yourself time to look at the ice cream and say: ‘Hello, cloud! I recognize you.’ By doing that, you have insight and understanding into the real nature of the ice cream and the cloud. You can also see the ocean, the river, the heat, the sun, the grass and the cow in the ice cream. Looking deeply, you do not see a real date of birth and you do not see a real date of death for the cloud. All that happens is that the cloud transforms into rain or snow. There is no real death because there is always a continuation. A cloud continues the ocean, the river and the heat of the sun, and the rain continues the cloud.
“Before it was born, the cloud was already there, so today, when you drink a glass of milk or a cup of tea or eat an ice cream, please follow your breathing. Look into the tea or the ice cream and say hello to the cloud. …”
skycape photography: hello cloud Nikon D750 f/8 1/15s 72mm 400 ISO edited in Capture One and Photoshop
“I bow my head before you as I look deeply and recognise that you are present in me and that I’m a part of you. I was born from you and you are always present, offering me everything I need for my nourishment and growth. My mother, my father, and all my ancestors are also your children. We breathe your fresh air. We drink your clear water. We eat your nourishing food. Your herbs heal us when we’re sick. …
“Sometimes I forget. Lost in the confusions and worries of daily life, I forget that my body is your body, and sometimes even forget that I have a body at all. Unaware of the presence of my body and the beautiful planet around me and within me, I’m unable to cherish and celebrate the precious gift of life you have given me. Dear Mother, my deep wish is to wake up to the miracle of life. I promise to train myself to be present for myself, my life, and for you in every moment. I know that my true presence is the best gift I can offer to you, the one I love.”
“Observational evidence from all continents and most oceans shows that many natural systems are being affected by regional climate changes, particularly temperature increases.” –Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 2007
Why You Need to Act Now Substantial scientific evidence indicates that an increase in the global average temperature of more than 2°F above where we are today poses severe risks to natural systems and human health. To avoid this level of warming, the U.S. needs to reduce heat-trapping emissions by at least 80 percent below 2000 levels by 2050. Delay in taking such action today will mean facing the need for much steeper cuts later, which will likely be more difficult and costly.
Impacts of Global Warming
Global warming is already underway with consequences that must be faced today as well as tomorrow. Evidence of changes to the Earth’s physical, chemical and biological processes is now evident on every continent.
Sea levels are rising and glaciers are shrinking;
record high temperatures and severe rainstorms and droughts are becoming increasingly common.
Changes in temperatures and rainfall patterns alter plant and animal behavior and have significant implications for humans.
The Climate Hot Map arranges current and future climate impacts into five main groupings:
Our suffering is the suffering of the deer, the fish, and the squirrel.
Thich Nhát Hanh, The Other Shore
What am I grasping at now? Are we chasing a butterfly? Are we chasing a cloud? So many things can pull us away from our loved ones and make us runaway… If you’re still demanding something, thinking it’s essential to your happiness, or rushing around in search of something, then you are still caught in the idea of attainment.
A lotus is very beautiful as a lotus. It doesn’t need to become a daffodil. The truth is that in the lotus there is a daffodil and in the daffodil there is a lotus. We can be the flower and we can be ourselves at the same time.
We are the deer, the fish, the squirrel; and the squirrel, the deer, and the fish are us. Our suffering is the suffering of the deer, the fish, and the squirrel. When we are able to see that the nature of all things is our own nature, we become free.
“Our mind is a painter, it paints all kinds of wonderful things, which are nothing more than the objects of our imagination. We create images to love, to crave, to be angry with, and to hate. It is our mind, our perceptions, that create these images. All perceptions are wrong perceptions. If a perception is not wrong, we call it understanding or wisdom.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh (The Other Shore)